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Transgender airport employees allege workplace discrimination

Prominent coffee shops and restaurants may be found in airports in Florida and across the country. Some Starbucks employees, however, allege that they do not receive protection from discrimination in airport locations, even when the company touts its practices at its traditional corporate stores. Starbucks has produced advertisements promoting its shops as friendly spaces for transgender people, including customers and employees. However, multiple transgender employees at Starbucks locations found in airports say that they were discriminated against based on their race and gender identity.

Starbucks locations in airports were, until recently, operated exclusively by a subcontracting company called HMSHost. Unite Here, a labor union that represents some HMSHost workers, released a report saying that pay inequity and other forms of discrimination have been repeated occurrences at these locations. Because airport employees work for HMSHost and not for Starbucks itself, they may not be covered by Starbucks’ policies, which include increased health insurance for transgender employees and corporate systems to prevent misgendering or inappropriate names and pronouns. HMSHost is no longer the exclusive operator of airport Starbucks outlets, but it continues to operate hundreds across the country.

At the Orlando International Airport, one transgender man said that his supervisors repeatedly misgendered him and called him by the wrong name. He also says that he was subjected to harsher penalties than other workers. Another airport worker said that he had heard supervisors use racial slurs directed at black employees, while immigrant workers were reportedly told to stop speaking their native languages. HMSHost has denied the allegations, saying they are being used to improve the union’s collective bargaining position.

Employees in a wide range of industries may suffer workplace discrimination, even at companies that tout inclusive policies. An employment attorney may provide Boca Raton, Florida, LGBT workplace discrimination assistance to help workers seek justice and accountability.

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